Beaufort News

Board might take school closings off the table

The Beaufort County Board of Education plans to vote again on taking school closings off the budget-cutting table, though the same motion failed on a tie vote Jan. 8.

Board member Ronald Speaks asked to add the item to the board's Feb. 1 agenda after five Shell Point Elementary School parents addressed the board Tuesday.

Closing a school is among several proposals the board is considering to combat an anticipated $4 million shortfall in this year's budget and nearly $7 million next year.

Shuttering Shell Point Elementary was proposed in November. Parents there have adamantly opposed the proposal and spoke against it at several public meetings.

"We have gone to great depths and worked with many of you," said Lisa Kindwall, chairwoman of the Shell Point School Improvement Council. "We hope we have been persuasive."

"We don't want our school to close," said parent Sharlene Smith. "We don't want any school to close."

The Jan. 8 vote to halt discussions of school closings failed on a 5-5 vote when board member Earl Campbell was absent.


The board briefly discussed Tuesday cutting funds for extracurricular activities as another way to balance the budget.

Board vice chairman George Wilson said many of the suggested reductions could affect academics, including cutting classroom jobs or teachers' compensation. If those items are on the table, cuts to extracurricular activities also should be an option, he said.

"I am a big, big believer in extracurricular activities," Wilson said. "But we are in a tough situation."

District staff presented more than 20 possible cuts for the board to consider at its work session earlier this month. Among them are cutting by 5 percent athletic and academic stipends for coaches and advisors and funds for athletic equipment. That would save about $116,000.

The board has not voted to make any cuts in the 2011-12 operating budget. Board chairman Fred Washington Jr. said he expects the board to hold a full-day budget workshop sometime next month.